Vinculum Fidei: The Tempest and the Law of Allegiance
Yale Department of English & Yale Law School
January 30, 2008
Law and Literature, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 1-20, March 2008
In English constitutional law, Calvin's Case (1608) laid down a new, deeply affective basis of individual allegiance; the bond between sovereign and subject was now to be understood in personal, embodied terms as a tie of obligation and love between natural men. This essay argues that Shakespeare's The Tempest is a work of hypothetical constitutional commentary designed to illustrate the fragility and awkwardness of the new norm at home and abroad; the play moreover rebukes the theoretical ambitions of James I. The late Shakespeare, in this account, is not a political quietist but a skeptical constitutional theorist offering a monitory vision of the affective costs of the new model of allegiance and obligation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: allegiance, English common law, Shakespeare, Tempest, sovereignty
Date posted: September 10, 2009